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740.00119 Control (Japan)/3–2548

Report by the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Kennan)

top secret

PPS 28

Recommendations With Respect to U.S. Policy Toward Japan 1

i. the peace treaty

1. Timing and Procedure.

This Government should not press for a treaty of peace at this time. It should remain prepared to proceed with the negotiations, under either the two-thirds rule or the FEC voting procedure, if at any time the other Allied powers can agree among themselves on one of these procedures. Meanwhile, we should concentrate our attention on the preparation of the Japanese for the eventual removal of the regime of control.

2. The Nature of the Treaty.

It should be our aim to have the treaty, when finally negotiated, as brief, as general, and as nonpunitive as possible. To this end we should try to clear away during this intervening period, by direct action, as many as possible of the matters which might otherwise be expected to enter into the treaty of peace. Our aim should be to reduce as far as possible the number of questions to be treated in the peace treaty. This applies particularly to such matters as property rights, restitution, etc. Our policy for the coming period should be shaped specifically with this in mind.

[Page 692]

ii. security matters

1. Disposition of our Tactical Forces in the Pre-Treaty Period.

Tactical forces should be retained in Japan for the coming period; but every effort should be made to reduce to a minimum their numbers, their cost to the Japanese economy, and the psychological impact of their presence on the Japanese population. The arrangements for their location, support, and employment should be determined with this in mind.

2. The Post-Treaty Arrangements.

The United States tactical forces should be retained in Japan until the entrance into effect of a peace treaty. A final U.S. position concerning the post-treaty arrangements for Japanese military security should not be formulated until the peace negotiations are upon us. It should then be formulated in the light of the prevailing international situation and of the degree of internal stability achieved in Japan. If Russia has not been extensively weakened and sobered by that time or if Japanese society still seems excessively vulnerable in the political sense, we should either postpone the treaty or insist on a limited remilitarization of Japan, preferably under U.S. guidance and supervision. But if by that time the Russian situation should really have changed for the better and if we are reasonably confident of the internal stability of Japan, we should aim at a complete demilitarization, guaranteed by an international treaty of the most explicit and concrete nature, to which the Russians would be a party.

3. Okinawa.

The United States Government should make up its mind at this point that it intends to retain permanently the facilities at Okinawa, and the base there should be developed accordingly. The problem of obtaining international sanction for our permanent strategic control of the islands should be studied at once in the Department of State.

4. The Navy.

The Navy should retain until the peace treaty its present facilities in Japan. It should shape its policy in the development of the Yokosuka base in such a way as to favor the retention on a commercial basis in the post-treaty period of as many as possible of the facilities it now enjoys there. Meanwhile, it should proceed to develop to the maximum the possibilities of Okinawa as an advance naval base, on the assumption that we will remain permanently in control there.

5. The Japanese Police Establishment.

The Japanese police establishment should be strengthened by the reinforcing and re-equipping of the present forces, by the creation of [Page 693]a strong and effective coast guard, and by the establishment of a central organization, under American expert supervision, along the lines of our FBI. SANACC should be directed to work out the detailed directives to SCAP for the implementation of this recommendation.

iii. the regime of control

1. SCAP.

This Government should not—at this time—propose or consent to any major change in the regime of control. SCAP should accordingly be formally maintained in all its existing rights and powers. However, the scope of its operations should be progressively reduced to a point where its mission will consist largely of general observation of the activities of the Japanese Government and of contact with the latter at high levels on questions of broad governmental policy.

2. FEC.

No move should be made by this Government at this time to terminate the existence of the FEC. However, we should begin to discourage the consideration by the FEC of new papers which do not relate strictly to the execution of the terms of surrender. On matters not related to the execution of the terms of surrender, this Government should issue unilateral directives to the Commander-in-Chief in his capacity as CINCFE. These would not be called interim directives. However, in matters which do relate to the execution of the terms of surrender, we should not hesitate to use the interim directive wherever we fail to obtain prompt action in the FEC.

3. Allied Council.

The Allied Council should be continued, and its functions unchanged.

iv. occupational policy

1. Relations with the Japanese Government.

Instructions should be given to SCAP that in the coming period its various sections should take particular care not to interfere or participate directly in the work of the Japanese Government or to perform functions which would normally be the responsibilities of agencies or officials of the Japanese Government. Its functions should be reduced as rapidly as possible to those of general supervision; and it should deal with the Japanese Government, as a rule, only at a high level and on matters of broad policy. This would apply particularly to the activities of the Economic and Scientific Section.

2. The Reform Program.

While SCAP should not stand in the way of reform measures initiated by the Japanese if it finds them consistent with the overall [Page 694]objectives of the occupation, it should be authorized not to press upon the Japanese Government any further reform legislation. As for reform measures already taken or in process of preparation by the Japanese authorities, SCAP should be authorized steadily but unobtrusively to relax pressure on the Japanese Government in connection with these reforms, and to permit the Japanese authorities to proceed in their own way with the process of implementation.

3. The Purge.

SCAP should be directed gradually to permit the relaxation of the purge along the following lines: (1) Categories of persons who have been purged by virtue of their having held relatively harmless positions should be made re-eligible for governmental, business and public media positions; (2) certain others barred from public life should be allowed to have their cases re-examined on the basis of personal actions rather than on the basis of positions occupied; and (3) a lower age limit should be fixed, under which no screening for public office would be required.

4. Occupation Costs.

Measures should be taken to bring about a drastic reduction in the costs of the occupation borne by the Japanese Government. If this cannot be accomplished in any other way, then arrangements should be made to cover many of the costs of occupation, particularly those pertaining to personal services, by payment in dollars, which in turn should be used for financing of Japanese imports.

5. Economic Recovery.

Economic recovery should be made the prime objective of United States policy in Japan for the coming period. It should be sought through a combination of a long-term U.S. aid program envisaging shipments and/or credits on a declining scale over a number of years, and by a vigorous and concerted effort by all interested agencies and departments of the United States Government to cut away existing obstacles to the revival of Japanese foreign trade and to facilitate the restoration and development of Japan’s exports. Detailed recommendations concerning the implementation of the latter point should be worked out between War and State Departments following Under Secretary Draper’s return to Washington; and White House authority should be, if necessary, invoked to see that the cooperation of all agencies and departments of the Government is enlisted in the implementation of these recommendations.

[Page 695]

6. Reparations.

We should announce that our Government is not prepared to permit the removal of reparations items from Japan in excess of the existing 30% project; that removals under this project will be restricted to such as do not materially prejudice the economic recovery of Japan; and that these removals will have to be completed by July 1, 1949; that no plants not earmarked for removal under this project will be retained on the reparations list; and that the United States will oppose the exaction of reparations from Japan under any future peace treaty unless a form can be found for such reparations payments which is practical, economical, favorable to the general economic development of the Far Eastern area and not burdensome to any single one of the Allied nations, directly or indirectly. SCAP should then be directed to make final determination of the facilities subject to removal under the 30% program, and to remove all other plants from the list of those earmarked for reparations. But it should be required to take care to see that primary war facilities thus removed from the list are disposed of in a manner consistent with the requirements of Japanese demilitarization. (The above recommendation should be checked and if possible correlated with the findings of the Draper mission, before implementation.)

7. Property Matters.

SCAP should be directed to force the pace of the restoration or final disposal of property of United Nations members and their nationals in such a way that the process will be substantially completed by July 1, 1949. It should be the objective of U.S. policy to have property matters straightened out in advance of a treaty of peace in order that they may not hamper treaty negotiations. Meanwhile we should continue our efforts to obtain an exact listing of Japanese external assets with a view to setting these off, eventually, against the reparations claims of FEC countries.

8. Information and Education.

a. Censorship.

Censorship restrictions and delays in the admission of literary materials to Japan should be removed. Pre-censorship of all matters printed in Japan should cease. This should not operate, however, to prevent SCAP from exercising broad post-censorship supervision and from engaging in counter-intelligence spot-checking of the mails.

b. Translation and Dissemination of U.S. Books and Magazines.

SCAP, in his capacity as CINCFE, should be directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to permit the authorized translation and publication [Page 696]in Japan of U.S. copyrighted literary works. GARIOA FY 1950 budget should provide for the shipment of newsprint to Japan.

c. Radio.

We should immediately undertake a regular program of medium-and long-wave broadcast to Japan from our transmitter station on Saipan. These programs should be carefully prepared with a view to developing an understanding and appreciation of American ideas and at the same time to maintaining as wide a Japanese radio audience as possible.

d. Interchange of Persons.

The interchange between Japan and the United States of scholars, teachers, lecturers, scientists and technicians should be strongly encouraged. We should press this matter in the FEC, and failing early action, an interim directive should be issued to SCAP authorizing bilateral agreements covering such interchange.

e. National Education Budget.

The Japanese should be permitted to allocate a higher proportion of the national budget to educational purposes.

9. War Grimes Trials.

We should press for early deadlines for the termination of the War Crimes Trials of “A” suspects. We should immediately undertake the screening of all “B” and “C” suspects with a view to releasing those whose cases we do not intend to prosecute. The others should be brought to swift justice.

v. state department representation

As soon as this is practically feasible, and desirable, the Department of State should send to Tokyo a permanent Political Representative, with the rank of Ambassador. The functions of this official would be to advise the Commander-in-Chief on political matters and to report to the Secretary of State on matters concerning Japan. The Political Representative would enjoy the normal facilities for independent communication with the Department of State. He would not, at least in the initial period, deal officially with the Japanese Government, although there would be no restrictions on his informal contact with Japanese government officials. The Diplomatic Section of GHQ, SCAP should remain in existence, but its functions should be restricted to those of a protocol and liaison section for GHQ, SCAP. All normal State Department functions now performed in the Diplomatic Section, together with the supervision of the consular establishments in Japan, should be placed under the Political Representative.

[Page 697]
[Annex 1]

Memoranda of Conversations With General of the Army Douglas MacArthur

top secret

General MacArthur’s Remarks at Lunch, March 1, 1948

The Commander-in-Chief spoke of the broad significance of this occupation of Japan, which he felt was not fully understood at home. There had been before, in world history, only one example of a really successful, constructive and enduring job of military occupation, namely that of Julius Caesar in the conquered barbarian provinces. This had left its mark on Britain in certain of the characteristics for which the British people are famed today. It had left its mark on the French through the land reforms which still lay at the bases of the independence of the French farmer.

In Japan, the military defeat had produced a spiritual and political vacuum. All the old beliefs had been fundamentally shattered by the outcome of the war. The Japanese people were thirsting for guidance and inspiration for the future.

The great significance of this occupation lay in the fact that it was bringing to the Japanese people two great appreciations which they had never before possessed and which were destined to revolutionize their thinking, namely democracy and Christianity.

For the first time in their history the Japanese were now tasting freedom. Peoples who once learned what freedom and democracy meant would never willingly return to slavery. They might be forced to return, but they would not do it willingly. The Japanese people had vivid and unhappy recollections of totalitarianism. For that reason they would never willingly accept Communist domination.

By that he did not mean to say that they would not obey orders if the Russians were to take them over by military force and use the usual totalitarian compulsions to require their obedience. The Japanese were by nature an obedient people and used to authority and would, of course, immediately shift back to the old ways in such a situation.

The Japanese Communists were no menace. They now had only four members in the Diet. These were able men and two of them at least had been trained in Moscow. It was too bad they were Communists. They had the ability to accomplish a great deal if they could be won over from their subservience to Moscow. They had made an attempt to capture the labor movement, but had been totally discredited when SCAP had prevented them from carrying out a strike.

If we had proceeded vigorously one year ago to press for the negotiation [Page 698]of a peace treaty, as SCAP liad recommended, he was sure that the Russians would have come along and that this achievement, with respect to Japan, might have had a decisive effect on the whole world situation. Unfortunately the favorable moment had been missed and the Russians had started to make trouble. Now they were being supported by the Chinese, for what motives he was not sure. He thought the Chinese Government could be brought away from this position. He had had Dr. Wang2 over here and talked to him for three days and had so shaken him that he almost had a fit of apoplexy during the interview. Dr. Wang had returned to China obviously not certain in his mind as to the wisdom of continuing the stand the Chinese Government had taken; but after his return he had apparently again been influenced in the other direction, probably by American newspaper correspondents, including the younger Powell.3

Both the Russians and the Chinese had a strong interest in the eventual conclusion of a peace treaty. For if no treaty were concluded, the United States might have to remain indefinitely in this position, and that would end up by Japan becoming within 30 years a real satellite of the U.S. The failure to conclude a treaty was thereby forcing us into exactly the position that the Russians were accusing us of occupying. He had pointed this out to the Chinese Foreign Minister, and it is this which had caused the Minister such agitation. There was, of course, a possibility that if China were too hard pressed by Russia she might eventually come to view the U.S. position in Japan as an asset to China; but he thought that all in all this was unlikely—that the Chinese were too short-sighted to understand the advantage to them of our being here. Therefore he thought that in the end both the Russians and the Chinese would have to come to terms about the treaty in order to get us out of Japan; but he did not know whether this would be in one year or in six.

A great significance lay in the accomplishments of the occupation of Japan. The Japanese were the most advanced of the Oriental peoples, and in that capacity they were bound to exercise in the long run the greatest influence over the others. A billion of these Oriental peoples lived on the shores of the Pacific. People in Washington were making a great, though understandable, mistake in overrating the affairs of Europe and underestimating those of the Orient. The great events of the next thousand years would transpire in this area. We had the opportunity, through the Japanese, to plant the seeds of the appreciation of Christianity and democracy not only in Japan but throughout the whole enormous area and to bring to these billion [Page 699]people, who might soon be two billion, the blessings of freedom and of a higher standard of living. If we accomplished this mission, we might fundamentally alter the course of world history.

Miscellaneous: The other countries of the Pacific area were very short-sighted on the subject of trade with Japan. Even our own country was willing to give a cotton loan but not to accept the cotton goods which would emerge from it.

The Russians were Orientals under the skin. That was our great mistake in dealing with them; that we had not realized this and tried to treat them as Occidentals. Nevertheless, they could not pass as Orientals among the other Oriental peoples, and therefore could not exercise great influence in the Far East.


top secret

Conversation Between General, of the Army MacArthur and Mr. George F. Kennan, March 5, 1948

Prior to my interview with the General, I sent over to him by messenger the following statement, accompanied by a note saying I thought this was a central question on which I believed the Secretary of State would appreciate having his views.

“However we act in the matter of a peace treaty, there is little likelihood that a treaty will be concluded, ratified by the requisite number of states, and put into effect at any early date. Many months—at least a year—would almost surely have to elapse before that could happen.

“That means that we are faced with a further extensive period, of indefinite duration, during which we will have to carry on without a treaty.

“Our existing occupational policies are based on the Potsdam Declaration. But the objectives of the Potsdam Declaration were really pertinent only to the immediate post-surrender period. They made provision for the security of the Allies from Japanese aggression. They made no provision for the security of the Japanese islands from aggression, overt or concealed, from outside. As far as they go, furthermore, these Potsdam objectives have been substantially achieved. They can therefore no longer serve as adequate guides into the future.

“It appears to many of us in Washington that in view of the developing world situation the keynote of occupational policy, from here on out, should lie in the achievement of maximum stability of Japanese society, in order that Japan may best be able to stand on her own feet when the protecting hand is withdrawn. This would seem to mean that the accent should now be placed on:

  • “(a) A firm U.S. security policy for this area, envisaging both the coming interim period and the eventual peace period, and designed [Page 700]to give the Japanese adequate assurance against future military pressures;
  • “(b) An intensive program of economic recovery; and
  • “(c) A relaxation in occupational control, designed to stimulate a greater sense of direct responsibility on the part of the Japanese Government and to give the Japanese people greater opportunity to assimilate in their own way the reform measures already introduced.

“Any comment which the Commander-in-Chief might care to make on the above would be much appreciated.”

The General opened the conversation by thanking me for sending him this statement and saying that he would be glad to let me have his views on it.

He began by pointing out the extent to which the Far Eastern Commission constituted an impediment to any reasonable revision of our policy at this time. He stated that he had always been opposed to the FEC and the Allied Council. He had felt sure that the Russians would never cooperate helpfully in such bodies and that the others would not have insisted on these control arrangements if we had opposed them. They had been originally based, he thought, on a misconception of the future course and possibilities of our relations with Russia. Today we had them. The FEC had issued some 50 directives. General McCoy, who was his old friend, had an aversion to permitting the use of the veto in the FEC, and the efforts of that body had therefore been concentrated on getting agreement for agreement’s sake rather than on the realities of the requirements of the situation in Japan.

Turning to the question of security, the General outlined his views on the position of the Pacific area in the pattern of our national defense. He said that the strategic boundaries of the United States were no longer along the western shores of North and South America; they lay along the eastern shores of the Asiatic continent. Accordingly, our fundamental strategic task was to make sure that no serious amphibious force could ever be assembled and dispatched from an Asiatic port. In the past the center of our defense problem had lain farther south, in the neighborhood of the Philippines. It had now shifted to the north, since it was now only toward the north that a threat of the development of amphibious power could mature.

The General then described the area of the Pacific in which, in his opinion, it was necessary for us to have striking force. This was a U-shaped area embracing the Aleutians, Midway, the former Japanese mandated islands, Clark Field in the Philippines, and above all Okinawa. Okinawa was the most advanced and vital point in this [Page 701]structure. From Okinawa he could easily control every one of the ports of northern Asia from which an amphibious operation could conceivably be launched. This was what was really essential. Naval facilities were important; but the air striking power was vital for the purpose in question. With adequate force at Okinawa, we would not require the Japanese home islands for the purpose of preventing the projection of amphibious power from the Asiatic mainland. That did not mean, of course, that it was not important to us to see that the strategic facilities of the Japanese islands remained denied to any other power. All the islands of the Western Pacific were of vital importance to us.

For these reasons, he attached great importance to Okinawa, and felt it absolutely necessary that we retain unilateral and complete control of che Ryukyu chain south of Latitude 29. The people were not Japanese, and had never been assimilated when they had come to the Japanese main islands. The Japanese looked down on them. He had been obliged to evacuate a half million of them back to the Ryukyus, as one of the first acts of occupational policy. They were simple and good natured people, who would pick up a good deal of money and have a reasonably happy existence from an American base development in the Ryukyus.

He regretted that we had not adopted a firm and permanent policy of base development at Okinawa. This had reflected unfavorably on the morale and efficiency of the forces stationed there. He pointed out that we had complete unilateral control of the Ryukyus at this time. They were not under SCAP authority but were under the authority of the Far East Command. They were therefore today entirely in our power and under our flag and no one could force us to release them without our consent.

As for the Japanese islands, he did not believe that it would be feasible for us to retain bases anywhere in Japan after the conclusion of a treaty of peace. For us to do so would be to admit the equally legitimate claim of others to do likewise. He could assure me that the others would be only too anxious to take advantage of this. Not only the Russians but the other Allies would want some sort of base on Japanese territory. The only way to prevent this was for us to keep out.

As for the needs of our Navy, this was the one subject on which he felt some doubts about the adequacy of his own knowledge of the problem. He uderstood the Navy’s desire to have facilities in this area and appreciated the necessity for it. He realized that the Navy did not like the prospect of making Okinawa its advance base, principally because the island was swept by typhoons and did not provide adequate protection, not to mention the absence of the usual port development. He felt, however, that these difficulties could be overcome. It [Page 702]would be possible to build a breakwater which would give better protection to vessels lying there; and it would always be possible for them to stand out to sea if necessary, under typhoon conditions.

Turning then to the question of economic recovery, the General said that he agreed with the view that this should be made a primary objective of occupational policy but did not know what he could do today that he was not already doing to achieve it. The problem depended, in the main, on the development of foreign trade. The other Far Eastern countries were shamelessly selfish and negative in their attitude toward Japan. This was perhaps understandable but nonetheless regrettable. He had been able to make some impression on Evatt, when he was here, but he had no doubt that he would begin to backslide when he had been back in Australia for some time. Our real problem was therefore to overcome these inhibitions on the part of the other Far Eastern countries and to get Japan started again as a processing and trading nation. He hoped that the revolving fund would help and that things would soon begin to pick up.

Turning to the last of the three points that I had mentioned, he said that actually much less control had been exerted over the Japanese Government than was generally supposed in the U.S. The provisions in the constitution, for example, renouncing for all time the employment of armed force, were the result of a Japanese initiative and nothing that he had forced upon them. He really felt that the outcome of the war had had a profound effect on Japanese psychology and that their renunciation of armed power reflected not a catering to the wishes of SCAP but a reaction to a tremendous national experience.

As for the Zaibatsu, it was really not true that the men who had been eliminated from influence were persons of superior competence. His Headquarters had received many communications from Japanese thanking them for getting rid of these elderly incompetents and opening the way for better men. Anyone who knew personally the men who were eliminated through the deconcentration program would appreciate that they were the counterparts of the most effete New York club men.

Actually, the brains of Japan had been in the armed forces. He regretted that it had been necessary to eliminate all those brains from public life. But this had not been his choice. This had been one of the first directives he had received from the U.S. Government concerning occupational policies. It had been embodied in the Potsdam Declaration.

As for the other reform measures, he thought they were almost completed. Another three or four months should see the process substantially wound up. The Civil Service reform was the only important out [Page 703]standing measure. When this had been implemented we might indeed be able to relax and permit the measures already taken to be assimilated. The economic purge, he emphasized, was not as extreme a program as many people thought. It involved no confiscation of property. SCAP was determined to see that fair prices were paid for the holdings which were being broken up.

Actually, the reform programs he had conducted had not been nearly as drastic as had been suggested by the directives he had received from Washington.

He realized that to some extent our occupational policies had been influenced by academic theorizers of a left-wing variety, at home and in Tokyo. He felt that there was a group of them in the Department of State. He said he also had a few of these in his own shop but he did not think they did much harm. He was planning soon to cut down on the SCAP section which had been most concerned with the subjects which were of interest to these elements and he thought that the problem would be adequately taken care of.

As for the question of a treaty of peace, all he could say was “I’m damned if I know.” He had hoped that it could at least have been possible by this time to put a lot of people around the table and start them negotiating. He realized that it would take many months for them to finish. He was sure that the Chinese could be won over with a certain amount of pressure, but he was not sure about the Russians. And he did not know whether it would be advisable for us to press for a treaty without the Russians.

The General then asked whether I had any further questions or any specific points on which I would like him to elaborate further. He emphasized that he was completely at my disposal and would be happy to tell me his thoughts on any subject I might be interested in.

I said that I appreciated the difficulty with regard to the FEC; in fact, I, too, had never been sanguine about it at the time of its establishment. But it did seem to me that there might be a way in which we could handle the problem presented by its authority. I pointed out that the terms of the reference of the FEC called upon it only to outline policies for the implementation of the terms of surrender. In the light of the wording of the surrender terms, this meant in effect the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration. However, the terms of the Potsdam Declaration were substantially carried out at the present time, and what remained to be done to affect their complete accomplishment could be done in a very short time. This meant that in actuality the policy-making functions of the FEC were substantially completed. They could not be taken to relate to the period following the execution of the terms of surrender. We would be entirely within our rights in [Page 704]declining to agree to FEC directives which attempted to go beyond this limit.

I added that of course we could not change the regime of control without the agreement of the other countries in FEC, nor could we abolish the FEC itself; but we could easily render it quiescent, and permit it to languish as long as we pleased.

The General seemed much impressed with this suggestion and said that he believed that I had found the answer. It appealed to him strongly, and he thought it was exactly the right line for us to take. He said that he could easily certify to the FEC countries within a very short time that the surrender terms had been carried out.

I explained that under this concept our position would be as follows: “The terms of the surrender have been executed; therefore the policymaking functions of FEC are exhausted. We cannot, however, abolish the regime of control, insofar as it relates to the occupation of Japan, until we have a treaty of peace. In other words, the occupation is continued, not for the enforcement of the execution of the terms of surrender, but to bridge the hiatus in the status of Japan caused by the failure of the Allies to agree on a treaty of peace.” Under such a concept, the occupying forces in Japan would become essentially garrison forces rather than the sanctions for the enforcement of the surrender terms. This being the case, the Far Eastern Command would naturally be retained, and we would continue to station in Japan such forces as we thought suitable to the requirements of the situation.

I pointed out that actually, this would probably have the effect of forcing the Russians to come to the council table and negotiate, for it would make it evident to them that failure to do that would merely enable us to remain in Japan indefinitely as a military power without being subject to the authority of the FEC. It was to the FEC, after all, that the Russians had looked for a channel of interference and restraint which could prevent the success of any constructive American policies in Japan. If the FEC could no longer serve as an instrument of Allied policy, I thought the Russians would take a different view of the problem of a peace treaty. We would then have them over a barrel; for they would either have to agree to the type of treaty we liked or consent to see us remain indefinitely in Japan with our military forces.

The General said he agreed with this, and it would play a great part not only with the Russians but with the others.

I then said that I hoped we could use the intervening period to wind up as many as possible of the troublesome technical problems arising out of the war, in order that they might not have to encumber the treaty of peace. If we could liquidate such problems as restitution, [Page 705]property custodianship, reparations, we could shorten the treaty by a great deal and simplify the process of its negotiation. I said that I thought long and legally involved agreements were by all means things to be avoided if possible, particularly when dealing with people like the Russians who had absolutely no understanding for them. I said that the Russians, whose concepts of property were as primitive as those of a crow, simply didn’t know what you meant by intricate legal provisions on property liquidation and similar subjects. I thought the treaty should not only be as brief as possible but have as little as possible of the punitive and excoriatory element to it. It should, in my opinion, be short, general, and inoffensive, and should constitute a pat on the back and a gesture of confidence to the Japanese as they move in to a new period.

To this also, the General indicated his complete concurrence.

I referred to the question of reparations and said that I had been much impressed with the briefing which General Harrison4 had given us on this subject. To me, it was incomprehensible how people could have seriously believed that the concepts underlying our approach to this question to date could ever have had a satisfactory practical application. Today, the whole question was almost hopelessly snarled up. I thought only something in the nature of a firm surgical incision could bring about any satisfactory solution of it.

The General said that he agreed with this view and he proceeded to speak at length, and with some vehemence, about the impracticability of the reparations program. The plants in question were almost without exception in a state of deterioration and obsolescence. Only limited portions of them could be physically removed. It would cost large sums of money and large amounts of badly needed materials to pack them and to transport them to ship’s side. Then there was the unsolved question of the shipping to move them to the recipient countries. Finally, none of these other countries was in a position to make any effective use of such facilities. One needed not only the machines but many other things which could not be shipped with them; the locations, the labor, the power, and the buildings. He could see in his mind’s eye these Japanese machines lying and rusting on the docks at Shanghai, and he was absolutely certain that only a negligible portion of them would ever be used to any good effect. Meanwhile, he had already found it necessary to turn some of them to other uses, and they were helping in the problem of Japanese recovery. This, too, should not be interrupted. But more important than this was the effect of the uncertainty created for the Japanese owners concerning the future [Page 706]of these properties. This uncertainty constituted an intolerable drag on economic recovery, for which the U.S. people were footing the bills.

The General felt that our Government had no choice but to declare flatly that while it would proceed with the 30% program already in process of implementation, nothing beyond that point could be reconciled with our other obligations and responsibilities in Japan in the coming period, and we were thereby obliged to make it clear that there would be no reparations from Japan in excess of the 30% program, as long as our responsibilities in these matters had not been resolved by a treaty of peace.

I added that I hoped we could find some way to make a similar surgical incision on the property questions. At the present rate, we would be many years liquidating the properties for which we had accepted custody. I thought that we might have to fix firm and rather drastic time limits for the presentation of claims on certain categories of property, with a view to getting this whole question wound up and settled before we were obliged to enter into a treaty of peace.

This concluded our discussion on policy matters. I thanked the General for his patience and his extremely helpful comments and told him that I would not take up any more of his time for these matters. He insisted, however, that he would see me again before I left Japan.

George F. Kennan


top secret

Conversation Between General of the Army MacArthur, Under Secretary of the Army Draper, and Mr. George F. Kennan, March 21, 1948 (Amended March 23, 1948)

The following are notes covering matter discussed at a conference in General MacArthur’s office beginning at 6:00 p. m., 21 March 1948. Present: General MacArthur, Under Secretary of the Army Draper, Mr. George Kennan and Brigadier General C. V. R. Schuyler.

A. Rearmament of Japan

General Draper stated that although Secretary Royall has not yet formulated an opinion, nevertheless, there is a general trend in recent War Department thinking toward the early establishment of a small defensive force for Japan, to be ready at such time as U.S. occupation forces leave the country. He asked for General MacArthur’s opinion.

General MacArthur replied that this question is a fundamental one. It involves consideration of a number of factors, all of which bear directly upon the problem. He stated that he had very definite views on the subject but emphasized that since he was not familiar with the [Page 707]strategic thinking of the Army Department and other high echelons, his views were necessarily based on local considerations. He stated the first related matter bearing on the problem is the question of proper timing for a peace treaty. General MacArthur said that this matter was first brought into prominence by President Truman himself, who over one year ago, publicly announced his urgent desire for early action to secure a treaty. Evatt of Australia, promptly supported the President; General MacArthur, three months later, added his support also. At that time, all Far Eastern nations, except possibly Soviet Russia, were eager for a treaty. General MacArthur said he himself approached their local representatives and found this to be their attitude. He felt that Soviet Russia also would have agreed since at that time the Veto question in its relation to peace treaty procedures had not become an issue, United States-Soviet international differences had not yet been aired publicly; and the Communists had suffered numerous local reverses in Japan itself, which made them feel it highly desirable to get rid of SCAP at the very earliest possible date. Apparently the treaty question became entangled with numerous other international issues; delay followed delay, until eventually the opportunity was lost.

Today, General MacArthur said, the problem is entirely different. China, which a year ago considered herself dominant in the Far East, is now weakened by internal strife. Naturally she now refuses to support any measures which would tend to advance Japan toward that position of leadership which China herself expected to occupy. Undoubtedly, were China to participate in a peace treaty conference now, she would insist upon punitive and restrictive clauses which would effectually hamstring further Japanese recovery. It is obvious that the U.S.S.R. also would obstruct the conclusion of any peace treaty which could possibly be acceptable to the United States. In the present state of international tension, Russia is interested primarily in weakening our leadership in this part of the world and in causing political embarrassment to us. She certainly would not agree to any treaty which would establish Japan as an economic entity oriented toward the United States.

General MacArthur said that despite these present difficulties he felt we should still strive to arrange an early peace treaty conference even if it should be necessary to exclude Russia therefrom. He said that the U.S. would have nothing to lose from such a conference, and we would probably gain considerably if we could achieve unanimity of approach toward the problem on the part of all nations except Russia. He felt that, if properly pressured, even China could be brought into line. He said he recognized that no such treaty could be considered as coming into force without Russian agreement, but that [Page 708]nevertheless a common solution agreed upon by all other nations would do much toward persuading Russia eventually to go along. He said that the international situation naturally requires that the U.S. retain occupation forces in Japan for the present and that we should recognize that the final solution of the peace treaty problem must await resolution of the current United States-Soviet impasse. He said we certainly should never withdraw our occupation forces so long as Russia could technically find an excuse to move in. The presence of our troops here is not so much to assure adequate defense of Japanese territory, as to provide visible evidence to the Japanese people of our continued support, and of our refusal to permit the forces of Communism to make further advances in their country.

General MacArthur said that in this connection, he had heard informally of certain Army Department thinking which advocated a change to over-all civilian control in Japan; with occupation forces restricted to certain base areas and under separate command. He said he felt any such conception is completely unrealistic. He said the Japanese people would never accord full obedience to a civilian administrator. They would more and more openly refuse to cooperate with our occupation forces and, with the accompanying loss of prestige thus engendered, we would soon find ourselves reduced to relative impotency. He said the present SCAP arrangement has proved highly successful, it has been accepted by the Japanese and is equally acceptable to all nations of the Far Eastern Commission, except possibly, Soviet Russia. Therefore, he strongly recommends that so long as we propose to maintain any form of control in Japan, we retain SCAP essentially as presently organized.

General MacArthur then passed to a discussion of the possibility of organizing a Japanese Force, to take over after the peace treaty. He said he was unalterably opposed to any such plan, primarily for the following reasons: (1) In attempting any such organization we would be acting directly contrary to many of our most solemn international commitments. Especially, we would alienate the nations of the Far Eastern basin, all of whom are still mortally fearful of a remilitarized Japan. (2) Japanese rearmament is contrary to many of the fundamental principles which have guided SCAP ever since the Japanese surrender. Under these principles militarism has been eliminated and armament industries destroyed. Abandonment of these principles now would dangerously weaken our prestige in Japan, and would place us in a ridiculous light before the Japanese people. (3) Even our best efforts toward rearming Japan would result in establishing her as no more than a fifth-rate military power. With Japanese war potential in Korea, Manchuria and North China gone, with her outer island [Page 709]bastions taken from her, and her merchant marine reduced to a small fraction of its previous size; Japan could not hope to defend herself against attack from an outside power. She would, under such conditions, constitute only a tempting morsel, to be gobbled up by Soviet Russia at her pleasure. (4) Japan is now struggling for her economic existence. Even with our assistance including considerable material aid, she is piling up a deficit. If the cost of maintaining armed forces were added to her other expenses, it is most improbable that Japan would ever be able to survive economically. (5) The Japanese themselves are no longer willing to support an armed force. They have sincerely and unconditionally renounced war as an instrument of policy. They have learned, to their sorrow, the results of having a military clique dominant in this country. They would not be willing to establish an armed force of their own unless we forced them into it. This we should not do.

General MacArthur here pointed out that if we wish to defend Japanese territory from external aggression we must depend primarily upon Air power rather than upon an Army and Navy. He said that with adequate Air power based upon Okinawa, we could protect Japan from outside attack. He dwelt further upon the strategic importance of Okinawa; pointing out that the California coast is now no longer our outer line of defense. This line now passes through the Marianas, the Ryukyus and the Aleutians, with Okinawa as its key bastion. The line has advanced outposts on its southern flank in the Philippines, Australia and the British and Dutch islands adjacent thereto. Its northern outpost is Japan. He said that all of the nations except Russia fully recognize the military importance of Okinawa to the United States, and desire that we retain it as a military stronghold. He said that Australia and New Zealand, particularly, wish to see us powerfully ensconsed therein, feeling that such a position assures their own defense far more efficiently than they themselves could ever hope to do. He pointed out that Okinawa has adequate space to provide for the operation of a powerful and effective Air Force, which could assure the destruction of enemy forces or harbor facilities along the Asiatic coast from Vladivostok to Singapore. He said, therefore, that by properly developing and garrisoning Okinawa we can assure the safety of Japan against external aggression without the need for maintaining forces on Japanese soil. He emphasized again, that we should retain these occupation forces until the peace treaty only, as a means of insuring internal order, and in order to impress upon the Japanese people the fact that we are not deserting them. General MacArthur strongly urged that in the light of these considerations, the U.S. reach a decision now to remain in Okinawa and that we devote [Page 710]adequate funds at once to the necessary construction for a permanent garrison.

B. Report of Overseas Consultants Incorporated

General Draper stated that the report of Overseas Consultants Inc. covering the subject of Japanese reparations, had recently been furnished the Army Department. He said that Secretary Royall would appreciate General MacArthur’s views concerning the soundness of this report.

General MacArthur spoke most emphatically upon this subject. He said that he had not yet seen the report but had talked at length with the authors during their six months visit to Japan while they were accumulating data for the report. He said that he felt the whole approach to the Reparations problem, and particularly the discussion upon this matter within the Far Eastern Commission, was so totally unrealistic as not to warrant his detailed attention. He said that in war booty Japan has already paid over fifty billion dollars by virtue of her lost properties in Manchuria, Korea, North China and the outer islands. With this loss, together with the destruction in Japan proper, she has suffered proportionately far more than any other nation in modern times which has waged war and still survived. He said it was only by the forceful leadership of SCAP since the surrender, that economic disintegration has been avoided. Even now, the Japanese are still piling up a huge dollar and yen deficit which there is little hope of liquidating for many years to come. Japanese monetary currency is valueless outside the country. Her foreign trade is still at a standstill; she is still largely dependent upon U.S. support and the generosity of the American people. The Japanese people are working very hard. They are cooperating with SCAP to the fullest. They are doing everything which could be humanly expected of them under the circumstances. Nevertheless, even by utilizing to the fullest all those facilities which are still left to Japan, she cannot hope to achieve a balanced economy before 1953, at the earliest. Except for actual war facilities, there is a critical need in Japan for every tool, every factory, and practically every industrial installation which she now has. General MacArthur considers that if we are to expect in the foreseeable future, to be able to remove the burden of Japanese recovery from the backs of American taxpayers, then it is utterly fantastic to reduce further Japanese economic potential by additional removal of industrial equipment for reparations purposes. He said that any such action is merely a camouflage method of subsidizing other nations from the U.S. He said that the present thirty percent program in which SCAP is now engaged, involves reparations deliveries only of machine tools [Page 711]and of a few other items, such as synthetic rubber plants, which have no place in the future Japanese economy. He said that these deliveries should be completed, but that decision should be made now to abandon entirely the thought of further reparations. Moreover, he said that the U.S. should see to it that in providing further aid to China, in establishing our ERP program and in affording other assistance to Foreign Nations, we require written agreement from such nations to the renunciation of all claims for future Japanese reparations.

C. Military Aid to China

General Draper said that Secretary Royall would appreciate an expression of opinion from General MacArthur as to whether or not the U.S. should provide additional military aid to China.

General MacArthur replied that he had a very definite opinion on this matter. He said this opinion was not based upon first-hand knowledge of the situation, since he had not been in China in recent years; but rather on a general knowledge of conditions and on his understanding of the problems of the Orient. He said he considered the situation in China today as deteriorating, but not yet hopeless. He advocates release at once to the Chinese Government, of all U.S. military surpluses in the Pacific Area. This release should be a gift—not a sale. He feels certain there are large reserves of equipment still available and that such equipment will be considered obsolete for American Forces by the time another war comes. He said he himself does not expect to fight in Japan, and if he does, he has sufficient reserve equipment under his control in Japan to take care of his own needs.

Also General MacArthur said that we should “take the wraps off” our present advisory mission to the Chinese Government; we should tell it to get going, using all means in its power to advise the Chinese military and to train China’s forces. We should settle at once those difficulties between the Army and Navy which now hinder the usefulness of our mission, and we should remove that doubt which now exists as to how far they can go in their activities. General MacArthur stated we should also furnish advisors to other branches of the Chinese Government and we should send officers to supervise the delivery to the Field Forces, of the equipment which we donate. He said we should also provide moderate economic and financial assistance, at the same time instituting reasonable control measures to insure the most effective utilization of this assistance, which is practicable in the circumstances. He said we must realize that China’s methods are inefficient and many key officials are corrupt. Nevertheless, he feels that we would have everything to gain and very little to lose by furnishing moderate support to the Chinese Government at this critical time. He feels we should back up this government to the maximum practicable extent, [Page 712]short of provoking actual hostilities with Soviet Russia. He is somewhat doubtful of the eventual outcome, since he is not certain that China’s Field Commanders still retain the “will to fight”. Nevertheless, under the circumstances, he feels that all-out aid to China at this time is decidedly a worthwhile gamble for the United States.

George F. Kennan
[Annex 2]

Explanatory Notes by Mr. George F. Kennan, March 25, 1943

top secret

[Here follows repetition of Recommendations, together with discussion point by point, not printed, except for the following extracts:]

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II. 2. The Post-Treaty Arrangements

General MacArthur feels strongly that the only acceptable permanent solution to the problem of Japanese security is complete demilitarization under an effective international guarantee. He considers that until the peace treaty is concluded and until such a guarantee comes into existence, Allied forces must remain in Japan. If there should be a treaty of peace but not a treaty of demilitarization, he considers that Allied forces should remain even after the entry into effect of the peace treaty, until such time as a demilitarization agreement is concluded. He is then content to see Japanese security rest on such a demilitarization treaty, to which the Russians would be a party. He believes that when the Russians put their signature to something clear and explicit, they will remain faithful to their word. He is not worried about indirect aggression by political penetration. He considers that the Japanese people are strongly averse to Communism and will not accept it.

I am unable to agree with a portion of this pattern of thought. I consider that it would be psychologically unsound to retain any of the occupation after the entry into effect of the peace treaty. I would not trust Russian good faith in the observance of any treaty of demilitarization of Japan, unless Russia were considerably weaker and more restrained in her immediate aims and policies than is the case today. Even then, I would trust it only for the period of Russia’s prospective weakness. Finally, I do not think that Japan’s powers of resistance to Communism can be taken for granted. To the Communists, the problem of capturing Japan is not a problem of winning over the favor of the majority of the Japanese people. It is a problem of penetrating [Page 713]Japanese society and seizing its key positions. At present, it looks to me as though Japanese society were decidedly vulnerable to such attacks. Its vulnerability can presumably be reduced by appropriate occupational policies on our part in the coming period. But we cannot be sure of their results until we can observe them. There are no automatic and foolproof cures for this type of weakness.

I agree strongly with General MacArthur that Japan must not be left defenseless in the period before the conclusion of a treaty of peace. It is with respect to the period subsequent to the entry into effect of the treaty that my views diverge from his.

World conditions are now in a state of extreme flux. Plainly, we are not going to have a treaty, or even proceed to the negotiation of a treaty, for some time. We do not know today what the situation of Russia will be when the time comes to negotiate the treaty. Yet this will be the decisive point. If Russia still presents the same sort of threat to world security that she presents today, then I see only two alternatives: either we must not have the treaty at all and retain allied troops in Japan or we must permit Japan to re-arm to the extent that it would no longer constitute an open invitation to military aggression. If, on the other hand—as I consider possible—the course of events should have served to weaken Russia’s military-political potential and to take off the aggressive edge of Russian policy, and if there were to be a good prospect that this situation would endure for some time, then we might proceed to the negotiation of a treaty of demilitarization and place our reliance upon that treaty to assure Japanese military security. We would still have to make sure that Japanese society was not too vulnerable politically, however, before we could take this step.

It is clear from the above that we cannot make a decision on this point at the present time. This decision will have to be taken later, in the light of prevailing circumstances. However, we should have it prominently in mind throughout the coming period, and we should observe developments closely from this standpoint.

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IV. 5. Recovery

The Draper Mission, now being in Tokyo for the express purpose of studying these economic matters, it seems unnecessary to attempt to advance detailed recommendations at this time.

The suggestion for a long-term aid program on a declining scale is put forward here as the most effective means at our disposal for promoting Japan’s economic recovery and the only device which seems to have any chance of exerting upon the Japanese Government the discipline required to carry it over to a position of complete responsibility for its own affairs.

[Page 714]

As for foreign trade, there is no single measure which our authorities can take which would alone radically alter the existing situation or advance in a major way the prospects for the revival of Japan’s trade with other countries. The main difficulties still lie with the reluctance of other Far Eastern countries to accept Japanese goods. But there are a number of individual measures which it lies within the power of our Government as a whole to take and which, in their entirety, could improve considerably the chances for progress along these lines. The difficulty here is that so many different departments and agencies of the Government are involved that only a Presidential directive would seem to have much prospect of getting the needed cross-section of cooperation.

Among the measures which I would consider as coming under this category would be the following:

establishment of a yen-dollar exchange rate;

permitting Japanese trade representatives to travel abroad;

establishment in Tokyo of foreign trade missions of countries not already represented;

re-negotiation of the Cotton Credit loan to extend the period of repayment;

establishment of the Revolving Fund;

reestablishment of facilities for the permanent residence of foreign businessmen in Japan;

simplification of the procedure for clearance of foreign trade transactions and the removal of duplication of Japanese Government functions on the part of SCAP;

encouragement of private loans to Japanese business;

determination of policy on patents, trademarks and utility models;

restoration of business property to United Nations nationals in Japan.

6. Reparations

The deleterious effect of the unresolved reparations program on Japanese industry cannot be overemphasized. In every category of plant subject to reparations removal—aircraft, arsenals, munitions, laboratories, chemicals, shipbuilding, iron and steel, oil, synthetic rubber, machine tools, etc.—there are some plants now engaged in turning out products which are either vital to the recovery of Japan, or at least completely unrelated to war manufacturing. Thus some arsenals are now, as before the war, repairing and manufacturing rolling stock; some aircraft plants are manufacturing electrical equipment and automotive parts; some shipbuilding yards are turning out fishing vessels, ferries, generators and spare parts. The closing down of these industries would throw many hundreds of thousands of Japanese out of work. For example, the Osaka shipyards, which are designated for removals, at present employ 60,000 persons.

[Page 715]

Plants scheduled for removals face an uneasy future. No outlays are being made for capital improvements. For lack of security, banks refuse to finance earmarked plants. Although the Japanese Government is required to pay the maintenance costs of designated plants, the burden often falls upon the companies themselves through failure of a near-bankrupt government to repay them. Many designated plants capable of producing essential items are now turning out lines of useless products in a get-rich-quick spirit.

Altogether about a thousand Japanese plants, both integrated and non-integrated facilities, have been earmarked for removals, but only about 20 of these plants have so far been subjected to actual removal of some of their equipment. Despite the minute proportion of the reparations program so far completed, the costs involved in the maintenance and custody of the plants designated for removals have been enormous. Maintenance costs alone involve the reconditioning (painting, greasing, etc.), replacement, blueprinting of all items individually, and, where related, collectively. Damaged plants must be rebuilt to the extent that weatherproofing is assured. I Corps Headquarters engineers have estimated that the cost of packing, transferring, and loading on board ship of the average item so far removed from the Osaka Arsenal is 3.5 times its present-day value. These same engineers have pointed out that the Chinese and Filipino reparations representatives have admitted that their countries want the selected items principally for the packing materials involved.

Years would be required, under present conditions, to dismantle, pack, ship, unpack, and reassemble removed items. In the process, parts will be lost and damaged, and it will be necessary to find spare parts and power sources. General Harrison, Chief of SCAP’s Reparations Section, informed me that there is totally inadequate shipping available for the purpose of transporting even the 1.6 million tons of equipment scheduled for removal under the interim program. In the case of China he estimates that it will require about 20 years, with the shipping now available, to transfer her requested share from Japan. In the meantime this equipment will either be maintained by the Japanese at a huge cost or left to deteriorate beyond the point of repair. If and when transferred to claimant countries (such as China and the Philippines) which lack technicians, skilled labor and power sources, the reparations equipment will in many instances be consigned to scrap or remain unused.

Reparations have been justified on the grounds that they will neutralize Japan as a future military threat and that they will provide Far Eastern countries with equipment which will contribute to their recovery. With her army, navy and air force abolished, her fighting [Page 716]equipment scuttled, her overseas empire liquidated, and 30% of her home industries destroyed, others damaged, and the remainder largely obsolete, Japan cannot be regarded as a potential military threat in the predictable future. The control of her sources of critical raw materials, if carefully conducted, would be a far more effective measure against military resurgence than an extensive system of reparations removals.

It is absurd to suppose that many of the facilities tentatively scheduled for removal from Japan could ever be effectively utilized in other Far Eastern countries or could contribute in this way to the basic recovery of the Far East. Viewed realistically, the reparations program might license the squandering of the wealth of the one country in the Far East capable of producing goods upon which that whole area must so heavily depend—textiles, rolling stock, spare parts, fishing vessels, etc.—just as Japan must depend upon the others for raw materials, especially foodstuffs.

Admittedly we have a serious problem before us in the attitude of certain of the other FEC countries, whose governments want reparations deliveries for any number of reasons except those of practical utility, and have been led by us to expect that they would receive them. It is probably best not to terminate all deliveries abruptly. The implementation of the recommendations put forward above will call for careful diplomatic preparation; and even at that we must expect a few outraged complaints in the FEC. But the fact remains that the idea of removing industrial equipment from Japan for shipment to other Far Eastern countries, as conceived in the reparations schemes discussed to date, is—without overstatement—sheer nonsense from the practical standpoint and basically inconsistent with the requirements of Japanese recovery.

Now it is we who are responsible for the occupation of Japan. It is we who pay in dollars and cents for its failures and its inconsistencies. It is mainly upon our future foreign relations that any frivolities of occupational policy will eventually wreak their revenge. This being the case, the realistic thinking and leadership in matters of the occupation must come from us, if it is to come from anywhere. The others have neither the incentive nor, in most cases, the sense of responsibility, to view these things incisively and dispassionately from the standpoint of an enlightened comprehension of the long-term needs of peace and stability in the Far East.

It is true that we have gone along, up to this time, with all these unrealistic concepts about the removal of Japanese industrial facilities for reparations. In fact, we are probably more responsible than anyone else for the currency which these concepts have gained in the [Page 717]allied community. But there are times and situations when a frank confession of error is the only healthy course. We are too often inclined to forget that it is the right of any government, as any individual, to change its mind upon due reflection. But when persistence in a course of error has literally nothing to commend it but a desire to avoid embarrassment, then the change of mind is not only a right: it is a duty.

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9. War Grimes Trials

In accordance with the Potsdam Declaration, an FEC policy decision was reached in April 1946, empowering SCAP to appoint special international military courts representative of any two or more of the FEC member countries to try: those who planned and waged a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, etc. (Category “A”); those who violated the laws and customs of war (Category “B”); those responsible for inhumane acts against civilian population (Category “C”).

The only indictment so far made of Category “A” war criminals was filed with the International Military Tribunal for the Far East on April 29, 1946 against 28 persons. The International Prosecution Section of SCAP finished the presentation of evidence on January 24, 1947 and the defense began its presentation of evidence on February 24, 1947, expecting to rest its case in May, 1948. The trial will then have been in process more than two years. Of the 28 persons brought to trial, two have died natural deaths and one has been declared insane.

Although the above mentioned FEC policy decision implies otherwise, Category “B” and “C” criminals found in Japan are being prosecuted by the Legal Section of SCAP Headquarters before Eighth Army Military Commissions in Yokohama. As of March 18, 1948, 237 cases involving 583 persons were completed. Remaining on trial were ten cases involving 80 persons. The number of cases awaiting trial, in which charges and specifications have already been filed, was 54 involving 165 persons.

Countenancing as they have the parade of thousands of witnesses, the examination of hundreds of thousands of documents, the exhaustive hearing of all evidence and counter-evidence by both the prosecution and the defense, the War Crimes Trials have been hailed as the ultimate in international justice. There is no gain saying the fact that the trials have been procedurally thoroughly correct, according to our concepts of justice, and that at no time in history have conquerors conferred upon the vanquished such elaborate opportunities for the public defense and for vindication of their military acts.

[Page 718]

Nevertheless, there is no question in my mind but what these trials were profoundly misconceived from the start and are working increasing injury to the Allied cause in Japan. The reasons are several.

There is really no law on which such judicial procedure can be founded. There is a law of common humanity which proscribes acts of inhumanity against captives or other helpless persons in wartime. The Class “B” trials rest on that law. But there is no crime of an international nature involved in the services which an individual renders to his own state as a public servant. The state, as such, stands responsible for its own policies; the vicissitudes of peace or war are its trial. And in the case of Japan, the judgment is now being enacted through the disaster which has befallen the entire country in consequence of the loss of the war. This is not to say that the victor does not have the right to punish individual leaders of the defeated nation. But the punishment should take place as an act of war, not of justice; and it should not be surrounded with the hocus-pocus of a judicial procedure which belies its real nature.
It is a rule with peoples, as with individuals, that punishment, if it is to have any exemplary effect, must be swift and incisive and must follow immediately on the heels of the offense. A delayed and long-protracted punishment (and what else are these interminable trials?) loses its effect on both the victim and the public. The Japanese public has long since ceased to feel any reactions toward the trials other than one of sympathy for these fellow Japanese who are forced to sit through these endless and humiliating ordeals which have so little to do with anything that anyone in Japan can understand. It would have been much better received and understood if we had shot these people out of hand at the time of the surrender.
The persons conducting the prosecution and defense are, for the most part, not fitted for this task. These are political trials. The medium in which these people are working is politics, and international politics at that—not law. Only persons deeply versed in the history and practice of international relations could be at home in this medium. Legal experience at home is of itself no qualification whatsoever for this work. Yet that appears to have been the only criterion by which these people were chosen.
The spectacle of American lawyers defending the policies of past Japanese Governments, in order to improve the defense of their clients, is absolutely preposterous in its impact on the Japanese. It undermines the whole effect of the trials. It carries the clear implication that Americans themselves are insincere in their feelings about the origin of the war, that those feelings arise from professional, or other ulterior motives, and not from inner conviction. What other impression can the Japanese obtain? And if he is finally forced to the conclusion that the Tightness or wrongness of Japan’s policies prior to the war was not a matter of conviction among the Americans but a moot legal point, on which Americans themselves are divided and which could be settled only by two years of abstruse judicial procedure, then he can only ask himself the question: where was the two-year judicial procedure by which it was decided that U.S. statesmen were right before they [Page 719]undertook to oppose Japanese policies in east Asia during the nineteen-thirties?

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  1. A table of contents listed as follows: “I. Recommendations [;] II. Memoranda of Conversations with General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (A) March 1, 1948 (B) March 5, 1948 (C) March 21, 1948 [;] III. Discussion”. II and III follow here as Annexes 1 and 2.
  2. Wang Shih-chieh, Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  3. John William Powell, son of John Benjamin (J. B.) Powell, veteran newspaperman and editor at Shanghai until 1942.
  4. Brig. Gen. W. K. Harrison, Jr., Chief, Reparations Section, GHQ, SCAP, Tokyo, and chairman of the Reparations Technical Advisory Committee there.